Lévy Gorvy, New York
April 25 - June 16, 2019
Warhol Women (2019) was an exhibition devoted exclusively to the artist’s portraits of women from the early 1960s through the 1980s on view at Lévy Gorvy, New York. The paintings in the exhibition covered the full scope of Warhol’s career, pondering the artist’s complex and often contradictory relationship to myths and ideals of femininity, beauty, and power. Warhol depicted an astonishing range of women, from heiresses and Hollywood stars to drag queens and denizens of New York’s underground art scene. Through paintings riotous and defiant, vulnerable and demure, Warhol Women shed fresh light on the artist’s oeuvre and the present moment, wherein questions of female empowerment and identity through images are as urgent as ever.
Whether intimate or monumental in scale, each canvas embodies the ambiguities that animate Warhol’s oeuvre. Made using his signature silkscreen process, they seem at first glance to submit to impersonal iteration—the machine-like detachment of the Factory production line. Yet, upon sustained viewing, they convey something indelible about their sitters: an aura of intimacy that intrigues and unsettles. These portraits offer up both the glittering surface and the raw humanity of Warhol’s art, which pulses with the evidence of his halftone silkscreen process and, in works of his later years, fluid strokes of synthetic paint.
Also included in the exhibition was a selection of portraits of Andy Warhol by photographer Christopher Makos. In June of 1981, Makos took 365 photographs of his good friend wearing heavy feminine makeup and an assortment of glamorous wigs—including the iconic bleached, pixie cut variation Warhol always wore in public (and often in private), calling the project Altered Image. Documenting Warhol in a manner that rendered the artist paradoxically both costumed and exposed, these photographs constitute portraiture in perhaps its truest form and thus allow greater insight into Warhol’s portraiture.